A 10-week-old infant had been healing from broken ribs and internal injuries when he died from a head injury caused by his father, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.
Michael Marrara Jr., 32, a volunteer firefighter in Fort Lee, was charged Tuesday with aggravated manslaughter, hindering apprehension and endangering the welfare of a child related to the death of his son, Andrew Jeremy Marrara. Now living in Florida, Marrara surrendered to authorities on Tuesday and will be arraigned in Hackensack on Thursday.
According to Molinelli, police responded to a 911 call on March 26, 2012 reporting that an infant at a Center Avenue apartment wasn't breathing. The unresponsive baby – in the care of Marrara and his wife, Lindsay Whitman – was rushed to Englewood Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The death was later ruled a homicide, caused by a "closed head injury," Molinelli said Wednesday.
An autopsy conducted the following day revealed the child had been healing from multiple injuries at the time of his death, Molinelli said. They included three broken ribs and soft tissue injuries.
"It is alleged that Michael Marrara, while alone with his son Andrew, caused the injuries that led to the infant's death," Molinelli said, adding that Marrara caused the rib and soft tissue injuries as well.
Further medical tests on Andrew were conducted over the 15-month investigation, Molinelli said. The child had no underlying medical or physiological abnormalities that could have contributed to the death, the prosecutor stated.
Marrara has been suspended from his firefighting duties pending the outcome of the court case.
"Because of the charges, according to the fire department's policy, Marrara was suspended from the Fort Lee Fire Department until the disposition of his court case," Fort Lee Fire Chief Mark Sulcov said.
Marrara, currently working as a maintenance worker at a Pompano Beach, Florida flea market, maintains his innocence.
"We have been cooperating with this investigation for almost 15 months," his attorney, John Bruno said in a statement, according to northjersey.com. "We feel certain that once all of the facts come out, Mr. Marrara will be exonerated. There is no question in my mind that he did nothing intentional to harm his son, and we will be able to show that."
Family members have in the past claimed the child died of sudden infant death syndrome.
"A year ago today you were born and we were blessed for ten beautiful weeks,"family members wrote on Jan. 13, in memoriam of Andrew. "Then SIDS took you from us. Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven, little man. We love and miss you every day."
This report was last updated at 12:50 p.m. Wednesday.